The Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday, admitted the U. S.-based businesswoman, Isabella Oshodin, bail in the sum of N250 million.
The court, which ordered that the defendant produced two sureties in like sum, said one of the sureties must have N500 million worth of property in Asokoro or Mariana District of Abuja.
NAN reports that the EFCC arraigned Oshodin for unlawfully receiving N22.9 billion from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.).
The businesswoman, whose husband, Bob Oshodin was said to be at large, was arraigned on a 25-count charge bordering on sales of a furniture manufacturing company to the Federal Government to the tune of 55 million U.S. dollars.
In the case filed against her, the anti-graft agency alleged, among others, that she, on 16 occasions, received N500 million; N750 million; N125 million; N350 million; N170 million; N85 million; N60 million; N50 million and other sums totalling N2. 3 billion from the Office of the NSA.
The EFCC also alleged that the defendant, on eight occasions, received from the Office of the NSA funds amounting to $57 million into the Escrow accounts of Bob Oshodin Organisation Limited.
She however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to Oshodin, Osahon Idemudia, had, on Monday, informed Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a pending bail application filed by the defendant.
He said the prosecution was only trying to treat a civil contract transaction as a criminal matter.
“This has to do with a civil contract transaction. It is either a misunderstood commercial transaction or someone is being mischievous. The defendants sold their furniture factory to the Federal Government for $55 million.
“They have only paid half of the money, which the prosecution has calculated as N22.9 billion. The money stated in the charges, which they claimed to be money laundering, is actually payment for the purchase of the furniture factory,” he said.
The defence lawyer averred that a copy of the contract for the sale of the factory had been exhibited before the court and that the prosecution admitted its existence in the counter-affidavit it filed.
Idemudia pleaded with the trial judge to admit the defendant to bail in liberal terms pending the determination of the trial.
Idemudia, while moving the bail application, drew the attention of the judge to the fact that, she had been in the underground cell of the EFCC for about 70 days without electricity.
He insisted that the alleged offence bordered on civil contract freely entered by the Federal Government and the defendant was committed to accelerated trial to enable her clear her name from the allegations.
The lawyer debunked the anti-graft agency’s claim that Mrs Oshodin jumped the administrative bail granted her by the agency, adding that the EFCC did not make any attempt directly to get her attention, but only directed her surety to produce her.
Idemudia therefore pleaded with the court to use its discretion in favour of the defendant, taking into consideration her present state of health.
The EFCC however vehemently objected to the bail application on the grounds that the defendant might likely jump bail if granted “because her husband and all her children are based in the United States of America.”
It also sought accelerated hearing of the matter.
EFCC’s Lawyer, Aisha Habib, said that it could be difficult to have the defendant return to stand trial if proper precautionary measures were not taken and she was granted bail and allowed to travel to the U.S.
She, however, said if the court was inclined to granting the application, it should do so with some conditions that would ensure “the defendant is available for trial.”
Justice Taiwo, while delivering his ruling on Wednesday, cited the relevant sections of the law upon which the bail application was brought.
He said he had carefully observed all the processes and that the charges remained allegations until they were proven beyond reasonable doubt.
“Therefore, any fact in the charges cannot be considered at this stage,” he said.
The judge, who said that he would base the judicial powers of the court on the law, noted that the applicant was said to have jumped bail leading to the arrest of her surety, who was at that time, charged to court.
He noted that Oshodin, who had been in the EFCC’s detention, was administered with a drug, Ventoline, to aid her breathing by the commission’s doctor any time she had difficulty in breathing.
Quoting relevant sections of the law on bail application, Justice Taiwo said “it is a judicial discretion to grant bail.”
“But the exercise of discretion must be devoid of extraneous issues,” he said.
He listed criteria that a court could grant bail application to include the inability of the applicant to access medical facility, criminal record of the applicant, among others.
He averred that in performing its judicial function, the court has discretionary power without being emotional or sentiment of the law.
Citing a Supreme Court’s case, the judge said everyone was entitled to have access to medical facility.
Justice Taiwo, however, said there was the need for him to strike the balance between the law and the fact before him.
He, therefore, admitted Mrs Oshodin to a N250-million bail and ordered the defendant to produce two sureties in like sum.
The sureties, who must deposed to affidavit of means, must resident in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the court.
Justice Taiwo also said that one of the sureties must have N500 million worth of property in Asokoro or Maitama District.
He also said the addresses of the two sureties must be verified.
The judge, who ordered that Oshodin is not allowed to travel outside the country pending the determination of the trial suit, also said that the defendant would remain in the EFCC’s custody pending the perfection of these conditions.
He adjourned the case until Oct. 15, Oct. 16, Oct. 17 and Oct. 22 for trial.
edited by Sadiya Hamza